Anyone who knows me well will be aware of my undying love for Animal Crossing: Wild World, the Nintendo DS game that took up so many of my happy hours - much to my mother's dislike - and brought me a huge amount of joy.
This game defines a lot of my childhood, and even in secondary school, I'd have months of play when I needed a distraction.
I remember first opening the game as a Christmas present, clueless to the virtual world I was about to immerse myself in. As a seven-year-old my mind was at one of its most imaginative stages, and this game fulfilled the chance to create my own space to run wild in.
Of course, tears are inevitable with the emotional connection that all of us Animal Crossing lovers know so well. The house you so lovingly decorate with matching furniture and wallpapers, the flowers and fruit you closely tend to and water each day, and the museum to which you generously donate your revolutionary discoveries. Most important were the neighbours who you grow real, true friendships with, before eventually receiving the godly 'portrait' with its very own secret and unique message on the back.
I'll never forget the moment I accidentally deleted my first ever world. I can honestly say the tears failed to stop falling for a good few days - rest in peace, Flower Town.
But that is what makes this game so special and what brings it so close to my heart: it truly makes you feel. My heart would race as I waited on the edge of my seat for the 'blup' when I cast my fishing line out to a shark, and when my favourite character told me they were moving on I felt my heart physically sink. It gave me goals to have aside from school work in the real world and it brought me and my friends closer when we visited each other's towns to swap fruit and meet new characters.
Of course, there would be points when I'd want to hurl my DS at the wall out of frustration. Accidentally making my hair pink in Shampoodle's (that damn dog) was one of these unfortunate events, as was the time my friend tricked me into dropping 100,000 bells on the floor which she nabbed and fled with (she was removed from my friendship circle shortly after such abhorrent behaviour). But I'd still pick that game up again each morning and squeeze in those precious ten minutes of mail-checking and plant-watering before I left for school.
Looking back, this game defines a lot of my childhood, and even in secondary school, I'd have months of play when I needed a distraction. Nintendo can bring out as many new versions as they wish - I only ever made it to the Wii version of Animal Crossing: City Folk - but I will guard my opinion forever that Wild World will never be beaten. Just like the first book or film in a series, my first memories of Animal Crossing will be cherished right into adulthood. Best believe I'll be playing this game when I'm old and retired - who needs knitting when you can escape to another world sat right in your hands?
Featured image credit: IGDB